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Posted bywpbizFri, Aug 30, 2013 @ 1:18 pm
Social media isn’t easy to manage, but the payoff is BIG (I have stats, so read on): it is the key to attracting more website visitors and leads—and retaining happier customers. Social media IS worth your time, as a small business owner or manager of sales, customer service or marketing. But the trick is to set up a monitoring process, so that you get desired results. Here’s how to focus your efforts.
But first, this is why social media is so powerful in generating business:
- 78 percent of salespeople using social media outsell peers. (Forbes 2013 study)
- Social media is tied with SEO for the best inbound lead generation source. (HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Report)
- Social media is tied with email for the lowest cost per lead. (HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Report).
This may be hard to believe, especially if your exposure is limited to slapping up a LinkedIn profile never to be revisited, or liking an occasional Facebook post. It’s actually surprising to me that most of HI’s website traffic comes from Facebook—not Twitter, which is known for referring traffic, or LinkedIn, which is considered essential in B2Bland. Most of my Facebook contacts are personal friends and people I know outside of a business context. And yet, who you know creates leads.
There is a lot of information online—especially for executives—that your prospects are revealing on social platforms, it’s just not easy to find. Unless you have the right tools, like TweetDeck or an inbound social medial monitoring tool, and a process, like The CEO’s Guide to Listening on Twitter.
To use social media in a sales, marketing and customer service context, you need segmentation and four steps:
1. Focus on business goals.
Think about your approach: what is your message to website visitors, leads and customers? Consider yourlifecycle stages and how you can most effectively relate to people at each stage of their buying process.
Social media is basically word of mouth online—being helpful and answering questions is the best way to get your name out to unknown users and build an audience. And when leads aren’t warm enough to involve a sales rep, listen to Twitter streams (and LinkedIn groups, Quora questions and Facebook, Google+ audiences). See what’s being said, so that you can determine how to respond.
You may have experienced…
A Common Problem: your target audience isn’t visiting your website, so you aren’t getting desired leads.
How Social Media Can Help: monitor Twitter for the problems your product/service solves, provide answers and link back to related content on your website/blog. Focus on being helpful rather than “selling.” This approach earns respect and visits.
2. Monitor the right terms.
What keywords reflect the problems you help solve? These are phrases to monitor, in addition to your brand name.
A Common Problem: your website leads aren’t moving through the buying process—or progressing from subscriber to qualified lead. They don’t seem to be moving through your content.
How Social Media Can Help: you need to dig deeper into their interest/problem. Create category lists in Twitter and monitor them for mentions of keywords, questions, problems. Swoop in and respond, but also save those questions—your answers should resonate and stimulate clickthrus in a nurturing email campaigns.
3. Segment your audience.
You may have experienced this in email: when you segment your contact list into subcategories or by specialty, region, location, role—you get a greater response. Typically recipients follow links to website pages and other content.
Segmenting has the same power in social media. It allows you to keep track of people you’re following and messages that are important to you.
How do you segment? In Twitter, use lists. In Facebook, organize friends in groups or “degrees” of friendship. And Google+ allows you to create circles, a way to organize contacts. But the way you segment just depends on what’s important to your business. For example, I’m interested in talking to small business owners and sales and marketing decision makers. So my categories tend to include small business/entrepreneur, leadership/management, sales and marketing topics.
The trick is to be specific enough to reach target audiences but broad enough to cover themes. Starting with buyer personas as one segment. Search for major problems you solve as another segment.
4. Personalize your responses.
You’re going to hear a lot about personalization, because it’s the most effective way to engage people online. In social media, personalization looks like this: a customer follows you on Twitter. Because you are able to see their history in your inbound social media monitoring tool, you can respond with, “Thanks for the follow. We’re happy to be your 100th.”
These little details make a big impression. It’s obvious you’ve taken an interest and the time to get to know something about this person. Flattery gets you everywhere in this medium, and it helps you find out: who these people are, what they want to see, what they need. Take away the assumptions and get a little closer. Social media helps you find out how you can do better business—if you take the time to understand ideal customers.
A few years ago, organic search was your main option for increasing visibility online. SEO is still important, but it’s a slower process that depends on search engines to recognize keyword use and content quality. Today, social media allows you to proactively:
- Create an audience for your product/service.
- Engage that audience.
- Drive visitors to your website.
- Discover customer issues or praise—and determine how to better support them.
There are endless applications of social media for an organization, especially in the context of an inbound program. But it starts with a willingness for various departments to embrace prospects, leads and customers on social platforms, a proper tool that allows departments to share information and a social media monitoring process to kick off the effort.
Terra Hoskins wants to help small businesses grow—she’s experienced the power of inbound while managing marketing at a small company and seeks to share her knowledge as principal of inbound marketing agency, Hoskins Interactive. She tweets at @terrahoskins.
- How to Grow With a Limited Ad Budget? Use Twitter. Read on…
- Capture Your Audience’s Attention on Twitter. Read on…
- 6 Small Biz Ideas for Security, Productivity and Facebook Prowess. Read on…
Inbound Marketing puts social media in the context of growing your business.
- Inbound Marketing is Really a Growth Strategy. Read on…
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